Lawmakers attack aT for giving chaebol large subsidies

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Lawmakers attack aT for giving chaebol large subsidies

Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (aT) was attacked by lawmakers at a parliamentary inspection yesterday for providing unfair benefits to food conglomerates at the expense of smaller companies.

Kyung Dae-soo, a lawmaker from the Saenuri Party, pointed out that the company provided 12.5 trillion won ($11.25 billion) in financial support for seven conglomerates, while doling out 1.3 billion won to 174 small businesses in 2010.

The corporation provides funds for agricultural and food companies to help them export their products. In total, about 800 billion won is available per year.

Rep. Kyung said that even though small food firms performed better than their larger counterparts, it is unfair to lend more funds to large businesses. The small entities exported a combined 596 billion won, while the big companies reached 135 billion won in total.

Ottogi, Ilhwa and Saempyo, all food conglomerates, were granted money from the fund, although they failed to export as much as they received, Kyung said.

“Over the past six years, Daesang Group received 175.2 billion won, Ilhwa got 86.9 billion won, CJ CheilJedang got 61 billion won, Saempyo was given 59.1 billion won, Woongjin Foods got 49 billion won and Ottogi 46.9 billion won,” the lawmaker listed. “Why do these conglomerates, which have sufficient funds, need [aT’s] support?”

Another lawmaker claimed aT conducted unfair transactions with large retailers at the expense of small outdoor stores.

The news was revealed by Hwang Joo-hong, a lawmaker from the Democratic United Party, yesterday.

Hwang said aT released 1,259 tons of cabbage and garlic to retail giants E-mart, Lotte Mart and Homeplus, while releasing just 119 tons to traditional outdoor markets.

By Song Su-hyun [ssh@joongang.co.kr], Yonhap

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